Load mobile navigation

The forest 'Hobbit' holes that offer glimpse of a lost world

Underneath and among the Gwydir Forest lies an industrial heritage from times gone by

Mine shaft entrances in the Gwydir Forest near Llanrwst
Mine shaft entrances in the Gwydir Forest near Llanrwst

The woodlands of Gwydir Forest near Llanrwst are now a playground for many and those that work here remain on the surface. But there are also remnants of a past life when the hills teamed with miners.

The ground was rich with lead ore and this would bring speculators and workers to this part of North Wales. Within the woods there are many signs of this bygone age, from the remains of the Hafna mine and processing mill to the now covered shafts hidden in the forests.

There were various mines in a tight knit section of the forest from Hafna, with its own furnace, to the Vale of Conwy Lead Mine, Parc, and Cyffty.

The industry dates back to around 1615 when Sir John Wynn, 1st Baronet, had samples of lead ore from his Gwydir Estate analysed. This resulted in organised mining on the estate starting some five years later.

Mining activity in the area, in a total of around 21 mines, was to continue for some 300 years. Parc was the last operational mine, closing in 1958.

More On